When I was a really young pianist...

When I was a really young child, the piano seemed to me like an open mouth inviting me and talking to me. This childhood image was so strong that it accompanied me all my life. I recently saw the series “The Queen’s Gambit”, and the imagined chess game projected on the ceiling of the main character’s dorm room very much reminded me of my very silent childhood even though it was filled with family sounds of fours siblings, football and chess games with my dear brother, singing and laughter. It was silent since it was filled with books, puppets and with the piano talking to me in my head, with its white keys as teeth, inviting me to play and make music.

The piano was so magical. And it still is. Its black shining ‘lining’, or sometimes matt ‘lining’, its body so asymmetrical, and its massive presence has always held a great pull to my spirit and imagination. It was also a source of awe and fear: something which morphs into a sentient being with its demands and needs. I used to be afraid of this ‘mouth’, afraid of making a mistake and being rejected as a result. All my life was a great trajectory into making friends with this amazing instrument. A friendship that became a deep knowledge and understanding, using the keys and the piano’s ‘teeth’ just as a means to enter its unconscious world which are the sounds. And there the magic begins for me. Being able to play the right notes at whatever speed was always a means to reach into the depth of this strange and alluring being.

At about the age of six years old I composed my first piece of music. It was a Waltz dedicated to my beloved and feared piano teacher -- Dona Olga (Olga Rizzardo Normanha). I feared her much more than the piano. In her school (Conservatório Musical Campinas), she had a Bechstein grand. It was really beautiful, with a flowery ornate piano stand. I produced an elaborate colorful copy of the piece, which in my mind was as much for Dona Olga as for her beautiful Bechstein. The inscription was both serious and endearing for a child. Music and piano were my world since a very young age. I would not do it any other way. As time passed, all fears and strong impressions were replaced by an indestructible friendship with the instrument… and the memory of my piano teacher.

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